The 7 Pillars of NaNoWriMo Wisdom, Part 5

The antepenultimate post of this series!

3150494-7873411214-5.jpgGet outside.

Everyday. I mean it. Like the mail carriers: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Even though it might be raining here in NYC on NaNo’s first day, and even though I’ll have no urgent errands to complete, I’ll start the month the way I hope to finish, with an early morning walk. (This way I won’t have to worry about the “gloom of night” thing.)

Getting myself outside isn’t really my problem, but with a well-stocked grocery store about 100 feet from my front door and the subway entrance at half that distance, sometimes “outside” entails about 30 seconds of scurrying from shelter to shelter. (What happens at the other end of the subway ride doesn’t count.)

Come NaNo, this will change. Ferris Jarr, in a recent New Yorker essay, writes about how walking helps us think. According to Jarr,

Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion.

This struck me as interesting because I bike on a fairly regular basis. I’ve trained myself not to think about my writing while cycling since I usually forget what I’ve thought about. (Same problem occurs in those moments at night just before sleep descends — any brilliant ideas are irretrievable in the morning if I haven’t written them down.) Also, since most of my rides are to and from work, work is what I’m thinking about as I ride.

Dickens walked every day, sometimes as much as 15 miles (northwards, that would get me into Westchester County). According to Jarr, Wordsworth (and his sister, ahem!) hiked the varied terrain of the Lake District, his lifetime pedometer showing nearly 200,000 miles. (Think of Dorothy Wordsworth as a 19th Century Ginger Rogers: in high heels and backwards.)

The point of all this is: I have to unleash myself from the desk whereon my computer sits and get myself out to the wilds of upper Manhattan. The Hudson is a 15-minute walk from my apartment (25 coming back, because the only route home rises 200+ feet above sea level in less than half a mile). Inwood Park’s minimally managed woods and the New Jersey Palisades are each less than 3 miles distant.

Or I can walk Broadway and get inspired by architecture old and new (see some truly lovely photos here).

Actually, why wait for November 1st? It’s still morning. I’m outta here.

About Lizzie Ross

in no particular order: author, teacher, cyclist, world traveler, single parent. oh, and i read. a lot.
This entry was posted in Am writing, NaNoWriMo, Walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The 7 Pillars of NaNoWriMo Wisdom, Part 5

  1. I love the word “penultimate,” and you’ve given me a new word: antepenultimate! So thank you for that. Also, this is great advice. Getting outside, breathe in some fresh air, and stretch your legs. All are good for you — and good for your writing, I believe. Many ideas come when I’m away from my computer.

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